Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bibliolatry: The "Christian" Sin

By David Ryser

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“According to John 1:1, Jesus is the Word.  And the Word is the Bible.  When you are reading the Bible, you are holding Jesus in your hands.  The Bible is Jesus.”  The preacher made his point using logic I had learned in a Junior High School math class:  if A=B, and B=C, then A=C.  Apparently the congregation had attended the same math class because they received this “revelation” with great enthusiasm.

I left the church service greatly troubled and conflicted.  Troubled because I know Jesus is not a book.  Conflicted because I knew that to sort this out, I would have to touch the third-rail of Christianity…the Bible.

Since the days of the Protestant Reformation (an unfortunate term, since nothing was reformed), the Bible has held a central place in the Christian faith.  This is not an altogether bad thing.  The Bible is the written Word of God.  It is a living source of revelation (Hebrews 4:12), and is the major authority in matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).  We all have experienced the quickening of the Holy Spirit in our hearts as we read the Bible.

But Jesus is not a book.

I know from personal experience that it is possible to increase in the knowledge of the Bible while drifting away from Jesus.  Shortly after becoming a Christian, I entered Bible College.  I studied the Bible for the next 6 years.  At the end of that time, I knew the Bible from front to back.  But I also lost my intimate relationship with Jesus.

Because Jesus is not a book.

I am not the only person this has happened to.  In Jesus’ time, all Jewish males learned the scriptures.  But those who became scribes devoted their entire lives to studying the Bible.  They knew the scriptures.  When the magi came to Herod seeking the Messiah, the scribes were consulted to find out where He was.  And they knew where to look for Him (Matthew 2:1-6).

So why didn’t they go to see Him?

Perhaps it was because they knew the Book, but they didn’t know the Author.  They were looking for the Messiah, and even knew where to find Him, but they didn’t act upon what they knew from the scriptures.  They never went to see Him.

It is possible that the scribes had fallen in love with the Bible and fallen out of love with God?  Jesus is not a book.

The Pharisees were also people of the Book.  They, along with the other Jewish people, searched the scriptures because they thought that in them they could find eternal life (John 5:39a).  But they were blind to the One that the scriptures revealed (John 5:39b).  They did not come to Him and receive the life they sought (John 5:40).  Instead, they opposed Him and ultimately had a hand in killing Him.

How did this happen?  Could it be they had fallen in love with the Book, but then killed the Author?  Jesus is not a book.

Suppose I were to write and publish my autobiography.  You want to know me, so you buy the book and begin reading.  You learn all about my life, my likes & dislikes, and my thoughts.  Do you know me?

I am not a book.

Suppose my book tells you how to contact me.  Excitedly, you continue to read on, hoping to find out more.  And my book contains a wealth of information about me.  You keep on reading and learning.  Do you know me now?  A person can increase in learning without coming into knowledge (2 Timothy 3:7).  In order to know someone, we must meet and experience them.

I am not a book.

Now suppose I come to your home to visit you.  You are in another part of the house reading my book in an attempt to get to know me.  If you continue to read, but do not come to where I am to meet me, you will never know me.  You may know a great deal of information about me, but you won’t know me.

I am not a book.

The apostle John tells us that he wrote his gospel so we might put our faith in Jesus and receive life (John 20:31).  Reading about Jesus is not enough.  We must act upon what we have read and experience Him.  John’s gospel is not Jesus.  It is a message about Jesus designed to motivate and guide us to meet and experience Him.

Jesus is not a book.

Worshiping a book, any book, is a form of idolatry.  Idolatry, by definition, occurs when we place something or someone in the place of God.  Anything can be made into an idol.  Even a book.  Even the Bible.  The Bible is God’s written Word.  It is an expression of God, but it is not God Himself. When we worship the Book, we have become bibliolaters.  The Bible has become an idol standing in the place of God within our hearts.

We cannot be intimate with a book.  More accurately, we should not be intimate with a book.  Intimacy with a book is weird.  Intimacy with a book is pornographic.

Jesus is not a book.

How many times have we been exhorted to stand upon the Word of God?  As if the Bible is the foundation of our faith.  The Bible itself teaches us that it is not our foundation…Jesus is our one and only foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11).  Without Jesus, our Bible is nothing more than paper, ink, and imitation leather.  The Bible’s power comes from the One who stands ready to perform His Word and who breathes on the written Word to produce the life of God in us.

Worship God.  Read and cherish His written Word; but be sure to meet the One the Book points to, and have a relationship with Him.

Jesus is not a book.

Responses to this article are welcomed.  You may contact the author at drdave1545@yahoo.com

1 comment:

  1. Nice article I feel the same way. I linked to it in my own, which has grown to become more of a book than an article - lol.